Blog | 22nd Feb, 2016

Sustainable travel tips

How can we make sure that when we travel our desire to live responsibly doesn’t get left at home?

The holiday period is a great chance to unwind, spend quality time with family or friends and, if we’re lucky, travel somewhere new and exciting.

Unfortunately, travelling can damage the environment we’re visiting, sometimes in surprising and unexpected ways. For example, this study found oxybenzone, a common ingredient in sunscreen, is toxic to young corals at a concentration equivalent to just a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool!

And with between 4000 and 6000 tonnes of sunscreen estimated to enter coral reef areas around the world each year, this adds up to a serious problem. “Current concentrations of oxybenzone in these coral reef areas pose a significant ecological threat,” said the study’s co-author, Dr Omri Bronstein from Tel Aviv University.

So how can we make sure that when we travel our desire to live responsibly doesn’t get left at home? We’ve pulled together a selection of resources that will help you make wiser travel choices:

  • Getting there: It’s no secret that air travel currently gets a big red ‘F’ on the planet-friendly test. Your best bet is to try to avoid flying when possible. V-line services can get you to an impressive list of destinations across the state. And if you’re looking for inspiration, then check out Bruce Gall’s book Southern Cross Safari about travelling around Australia by bus and train. Or you could do it by bicycle, as this family did!
  • Carbon offsetting: If there’s no good alternative to flying, then you may want to consider buying carbon offsets. Offsetting your carbon emissions basically means funding another activity that reduces, avoids or absorbs an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas elsewhere. To learn more check out this handy article on effectively offsetting your carbon footprint (featuring a story about a famous rock band and mango trees. No, really!).

We hope this list gives you a good start and the inspiration you need to look for more planet-friendly travel options this summer. Not only will you reduce your impact on our environment, but we reckon you’ll have a more enjoyable experience, and so will those coming after you!

And what about sunscreen? The good news is that you can get biodegradable organic sunscreens that will protect your skin just as well, but don’t contain the harmful chemicals that can contaminate our rivers and oceans.